Friday, November 30, 2007

All the Paintings

All the Paintings
Once inside my head
Prettily conceived
And refined
Posed around
The studio with care

All the unfinished paintings
Final touches added
Signatures affixed
Photos taken
Frames assigned
Names given
Prices determined

All the paintings
Adorning the walls
Which to take
Which am I too attached to
Not that sure I want to show

All the boxes stacked up
Awaiting my choices
The colorful array
So soon hidden away
Bare walls
And empty hooks
To all the pretty paintings
Once there.

(c) Jacqui Binford-Bell 2007

The above painting in In Memorial and depicts the New Mexico Vietnam Memorial looking over the Moreno Valley. It is just one of the many paintings I will be displaying at a local fair this weekend. All in hopes that few return home with me to go back on those bare walls.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Art Sunday - Me for a change

I have another fair the first weekend in December. It is a local fair and I have plenty of paintings to display. And even lots the locals have not seen. I took six paintings down to the gallery to expand my exhibit there and still had plenty of paintings to show at this little fair.

But I was in the mood to paint. I have been mulling over a couple new concepts since the fair in October. I like the question I get frequently (probably based on price/hour economy) which is, "How long does it take you to do a painting?" Where do I start with that accounting? If you start at the moment of inspiration then the following painting took about 40 days. Me and Noah and the rain.

Back stairs

Back Stairs 16 x 20 Mixed Media on Canvas

It was inspired by a photograph of blue stairs against a white wall in a Greek village. Art should always make us see what we might otherwise have missed. I kept going back to those stairs on a Greek Island I have never been to and wondering why it was so familiar. Even after the fair could not get the image out of my mind. I love playing with perspective and so I tried to duplicate the image in a sketch put found myself guided to stairs I have seen in Taos and other little villages in Northern New Mexico. I have no idea where these are beyond inside my mind. And now on a canvas.

Another image that has been in the back of my mind for a couple years is based on a series of photographs I took of the AT&S train station in Raton, NM. It is an interesting Southwest structure which has all sorts of angles in it. Each layer alters 45 degrees and therefor creates a real challenge for perspectives. Lots of time spent on the sketches for this one.

Raton Train Station

Raton Station 11 x 14 Mixed Media on Canvas

The following is one of those silly little thing artists play with from time to time. The first painting I did of this Pelican is in my permanent collection and hangs in the downstairs bathroom. Several people have wanted to buy it but for really strange reasons I am reluctant to part with it. So while playing around with this new canvas that is 1 1/2 deep and does not require being framed if you paint around the edge (that was done on the two above) I decided to re-do my Pelican (never throw away a sketch). It did not end up like the first. I seem unable to copy even my own work. This one is more colorful.


Pelican 9 x 12 Mixed Media on Canvas

A funny bird the pelican. But here again it is the angles I was drawn too. I guess I am just going through an exploration of angles and perspectives if. Currently working on another in the same vein.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007



Messages from my mother
No matter when delivered
seem forever
etched in my mind
Keep your skirts down
Pants up
Shoes on
Feet on the floor
Little ladies don’t sit like that

I was Daddy’s little girl
Seldom lady like
Forever barefoot
Often up a tree
Willful brat
Mom would say
Stubbornness will get you nowhere
Don’t talk back
Little pictures should be seen
not heard

Doesn’t use time wisely
Runs with scissors
Sit up straight
pay attention
I am talking to you
Why can’t you just be
More of a young lady
Go brush your hair
You shouldn’t read in the dark

Too independent to submit
Legs always curled up on the couch
Not crossed daintily at the ankle
Dad’s helper in his wood shop
Hair never curled
Always standing pigeon-toed
Suck your stomach in
Back straight
Your butt is too big
Escaping from the house
Her ever watchful gaze
In jeans and a sweatshirt
with no bra
Often no shoes.

Off to college
to snare the right mate
I had such different goals
Maybe to end the war
March for free speech
Get educated
Not my MRS
But a BA
You could get a date if you weren’t so smart
Can’t you just play dumb
Study in the law library

You are so like your Mother
Dad said one day
I was on vacation from college
Sprawled on the floor
With books all around
Going to ruin your eyes, kiddo
He switched on the light
Illuminating my shoes
under the coffee table
not far from Mom’s
She stood barefoot in the kitchen

I love you
Her phone message said
We were a family of I love you’s
But I always said them first
I love you too
She had said that Thanksgiving morning
I had called as prescribed
The dutiful daughter at last
I would call her back tomorrow
To say I love you too
Tomorrow would be too late

(c) J. Binford-Bell 2007

My mother, Mary LaVerne Hilderbrand Binford, died on Thanksgiving day almost two decades ago an hour before she left the phone message. This is my way of saying, despite our many differences (and those overlooked similarities), I loved you too.

For more Poetry Wednesday posts see our hostess Sans Souci

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Let there be light

The Light

Where it was once
It is now
I can by simply throwing
a switch
Illuminate the night

How wonderful it would be
With just one
We could chase darkness
From the soul
Bring hope
To the hopeless
A solution
to our woes

Fill the dark
with stars

(c) Jacqui Binford-Bell 11/2007

Progress continues, though somewhat slowly, on the studio. The exterior, except for the future deck, is done. Now I am ready to work on finishing the interior when I am closed in because of the weather.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

My Vivid Imagination

As a child I was given to flights of fancy. Mother's term was vivid imagination. I used to have very lucid dreams which had this scary tendency to come true. Like the time my father's mother and his step-father died in the Ruskin Heights Tornado. But for those inclined to stop reading at this point let me mention the lens flares in the photograph on this blog are not ghosts.

I have always liked to bend the rules (Mom's term was willful) just to see what I will get. I know you should never shoot into the sun. on this occasion I just liked the composition, the placement of the trees, the sense of light and shadow. I took the photo so I could go back to the studio and use it as a basis for a painting. Artistic license.

And sometimes by going where you should not go, or doing what you should not do you find something out about yourself or your medium. And sometimes your vivid imagination connects things in your mind which for others would remain separate. Sometimes that just leads to worry and fret over things which never happen. The question is how to know the difference. I call them collective days. StarWars termed them "disturbances in the Force."

Yesterday began simply enough: hang lights on the exterior of my newly sided studio now one step closer to completion. No problem. Except yesterday I worried all day about an accident. I'm an electrician. I work with electricity and ladders all the time and usually without thinking about it. But yesterday there was a constant fear of falling off the ladder, having the ladder collapse or fall under me, dropping a light fixture, dropping the ladder through one of my studio windows; all of which led to me being hyper careful. A couple times I even considered not doing my designated task for the day. After all the phone lines were down.

Due to some glitch at Qwest nobody in several rural towns nearby could call out of their own little town. And as we all share an emergency dispatcher that meant no 911 capability.And cell phones were stretched to the limit. Calls could not be completed because everyone was using them in hopes of communication. So carrying the cell phone in case of emergency was not making any sense.

I told myself my fears were groundless but kept repeating my mantra: It is not necessary to have an accident to give yourself an excuse to blow off your to-do list for the day. But I trudged on determined. But some six hours later when Qwest finally solved their "facilities issue" the first call I got was from my ex-husband (friend and co-worker) to say he was in the hospital. He has been rather more sick than he should be of late. I have worried about his immune system. Perhaps the hospital blood tests will get to the bottom of his series of "flus and colds."

So I should be totally at ease. Worry on the ladder might have just been linked to vibes from Marc. But rather than settle me down the news puts me more on edge. It is with some relief that bedtime arrives and I take two Advil PM and head to sleep perchance to dream. Not the night I wanted the dogs to start barking at midnight. Not their must-be-some-strange-kitty-in-our-yard bark, or even the what-was-that-noise bark, but the I'm-not-going-out-there-bark. But if whatever creature is far too close makes it to the bedroom I am willing to give me life.

The do sporadic barks for about an hour. I note the time. And I take inventory of the fact that while I installed the lights I did not energize them. The 300 watts of flood lights would be very nice at this moment. I was going to get the breakers from Marc. But he is in the hospital. It all seems so very collective in my mind; of a set, a disturbance in the force. Or hopefully just my vivid imagination.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Take me away

Take me away

Talk to me of islands
Never, never lands
Far away
In impossibly calm seas

Talk to me of islands
Transport me away
At least for these few moments
Take me there
Take me away from the realities
That consume my joy

Draw for me pictures
Of untold wonderlands
Spin for me fantastic tales
Of adventures yet to be take
Make my heart light
Point me toward a future
Far from the mire of my today

Talk to me of sailing ships
And isolated sandy beaches
Read to me of mythical triumphs
Help me to believe
For at least this moment
This can be escaped.

Let me float
Above the toils of the world
To islands I wish to see
Help me feel the waves
Gently rock the boat

Talk to me of islands
And free me from the land
In which I am locked.

Jacqui Binford-Bell November 2007

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Art Sunday - Architecture for the Soul

Memorial to the Vietnam Dead

Friday was one of those wonderful Indian Summer days that just calls for one to go play. So I grabbed my camera and set off to capture some images of the day.

I was drawn to the newly renovated Vietnam Memorial Chapel here in Angel Fire, New Mexico. It occurred to me that featuring this wonderful architectural design would be appropriate for not must Veteran's Day but for Art Sunday. Art should always elevate us. I think this memorial does that.

Dr. Victor Westfall and his family built the chapel in 1971 to honor his son David, who lost his life in Vietnam May 22, 1968. A 6,000-square-foot Visitors Center has been added, along with many artifacts and photos. As of November 11, 2005, it was the Nation’s First Vietnam Veterans State Park.

At that time it was conceived memorials to Vietnam Veterans was not popular, but within two decades, a chastened and belatedly grateful nation would build a National memorial to the Vietnam dead.

Ted Luna, a young Santa Fe architect at the time, was chosen to design the Memorial Chapel. His concept, all soft gentle curves, can aptly be described as more sculpture than conventional building. He said of his creation: "I nestled the Chapel into the brow of a knoll, overlooking a mountain valley. The Chapel evolved into a timeless statement, void of all traditional connotations of materials and their use and because of this I have achieved simplicity without sterility."

The vast gull-like structure rises above the brow of the knoll to a height of nearly 50 feet and has graceful, inward curving walls sweeping down to each side of twin center pinnacles. The west wall is slightly higher and longer, and is a quarter-circle arc of a 99 foot radius. Both walls flow majestically down from their commanding height so that the tip of each disappears as it is buried in the ground. A third inward curving wall completes the structure.

The roof line follows the downward curve of the two main walls to normal room height at their juncture with the third wall. The interior of the Chapel conforms to the shape of the three curved walls and the roof line, and is relatively small compared to the massive exterior. The Chapel is a place of peace and tranquility. Where the two curved side walls meet, there is a tall, narrow window through which visitors can look across the tranquil valley. Mounted on the curved rear wall are photographs of Vietnam War dead.

The formal dedication was on May 22, 1971, the third anniversary of Victor David Westphall III’s death. Senator John Kerry was the principal speaker.

The Memorial is used to honor the dead of Vietnam several times a year but definitely at Memorial Day and Veterans Day. The recent renovations had a seating area and flying awing in keeping with the spirit of the initial design.

The women's gardening club works every year to keep the grounds beautiful for the thousands of visitors. Autumn is not the time to appreciate the work but I was moved by the new patio with flags that is beside the memorial and allows seating for people to sit and contemplate and reflect on the horrors of war and the loss of loved ones.

May you find some place today to feel at peace.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

A day at the baths

A day at the baths

Quiet zone
Do not Disturb
the rocks
the Water
the others there
to soak

quietly of joys
and sorrows
to the breeze in the cottonwoods
the cascade of water
rising through rocks
from the springs
absorb the healing minerals
the gentle autumn sun

the trees
the water
the bubbles rising
from the pebbles in the bottom
Quiet conversations
while soaking
in the iron
And lithium
Everyone blissed
and blessed
and bathed
after a day at the baths

J. Binford-Bell, November 2007

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Paul Klee for Art Sunday Inspiration

I had a college room mate that was a direct descendent of Paul Klee. We actually had a signed and numbered print of his in our dorm room. It was my first introduction to this whimsical Swiss born painter.

Cat and Bird
Cat and Bird

Klee was started out on the path to be a musician and began playing the violin at eight. At that time he was also given a box of chalk by his grandmother and encouraged to draw. I think there is something musical about his compositions, maybe because of this. Especially I can see the influence of the string instruments in his work.


Klee worked with many different types of media—oil paint, watercolor, ink, and more. He often combined them into one work becoming the father of mixed media. The above painting is done on fabric pasted to a board. He has been associated with expressionism, cubism and surrealism, but does not fit into one school of art.

His works, like the Cat and Bird one, often have a fragile child-like quality to them and are usually on a small scale. They frequently allude to poetry, music and dreams and can include words or musical notation. His later works, which are my personal favorites, are distinguished by spidery hieroglyph-like symbols which he famously described as "taking a line for a walk".

As illustrated in this work entitled Contemplating.


Or this work called The Twittering Machine.

The Twittering Machine

Yellow Birds and is my favorite.

Yellow Birds

For more information on Paul Klee see Wiki.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Some of the little aspects of the Colorado Plateau

I decided to focus on some of the small aspects of the Colorado Plateau. Everything seems so vast and huge here that often the small points of beauty are ignored. My sister and I are photographers and artists and so we can sometimes ignore the big picture in favor of the little details. This can frankly get just a bit obsessive. We were photographing the intricate little holes and cavities in the wall of sandstone pictured below when two tourists walked past. She was oohing and aahing about the view pictured in the opening photo.

Her husband obviously wanted to hurry her up. He was trying to take the three mile scenic trail at Canyonlands as if it was the Boston marathon.

“Look at that cliff,” she said pointing toward where Deb and I were busy recording our miniture world.

“Come on. It is just more red rocks.”

“Red rocks?” my sister and I mouthed silently to each other. “How blind.”


Other people had used this wall to place little stones in the cubby holes. It is the I-care- about-nature way of saying, “I was here.” As is the photo below. This was taken at a conjunction of several trails in Arches National Park. But obviously it was a meeting place. The gathering of stacks of stones was like a congregation at a church.

I was here

Survival in the Utah wastelands takes a lot of hard work. Yo don’t just set off on what is going to be an hour hike without all the essentials to survive a lot longer if necessary. Water is especially precious. And as the photo below indicates for plants so is dirt. There really isn’t any except in the canyon bottoms but plants, even trees get a foothold here. Their roots seek out every single crevice in the sandstone. This tree did not survive but it is still hanging on.

Holding tight to the rock

The shrub below is called Mormon’s Tea. It is credited for the survival of the early settlers in this wilderness. My sister and I came to really love this plant. To chew on the hollow reeds that comprise what would in other plants be leaves is to receive a new burst of energy and decreased hunger. It obviously was invaluable in getting the family through the next portion of the forced march toward a valley that had water, shade and shelter from the winds.

Morman's Tea

And they profess to not believe in stimulants like coffee. This stuff was like a quadruple espresso.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Feeling Less Than Free

My word for today on another blog site was Force. I picked it to define because quite frankly I am feeling a bit forced these days.

First there is the force that the approaching winter is applying. After enduring six feet of snow in three days last year the mere thought of snow seems to bring on post traumatic stress syndrome. I had been lulled into a sense of safety by two or three very mild winters and then to be hit by the 100 year storm . . . well, I was woefully unprepared except for the larder full of canned goods in case of bird flu.

Second, I am feeling forced by a need to finish the studio project begun this summer. I have at last found a carpenter to apply the outside siding. Let me note that while I am very grateful to be getting this done it has all cost more than anticipated or budgeted and way more than the national norms. According to one home improvement site I should be able to get my entire house sided for about $6,900 US but I had one estimate for $25,000. Doing just the new addition for $3,000.

So, the third force would have to be money. Obviously something a lot of people are feeling because the rich that buy my art seem reluctant to let go of a dime these days. Which puts us artists back to poverty level. Mind you we are always skirting close to that edge at the best of times.

Fourth, we seem to have started the political campaigning entirely too early. Is it possible that we could elect our next president in 2008 just to allow him or her a platform from which to run for re-election for four years?

I like the increased debates. I thought it would make me feel as if I had more control over my choice but no. The talking heads want to tell me what I should have thought as the candidates answered the questions, and the pollsters seem to have already elected who it is that is going to run. So I am divided as to whether we should just let the polls elect the president and thereby skip all those soon to come nasty television spots, or launch a write in campaign for some really dark horse (like an honest person not tied to big money), or quietly move offshore like all the jobs, factories, and money.

And Fifth is of course the war in Iran. He wants one. He probably will get one. Hell, even Hilary voted to call them terrorists. What choice did we have about Iraq. You assume we will have a choice about Iran? Which in order to man three wars there will have to be a draft and once again we are being forced to participate in something we cannot (and should not morally) condone.

I wonder if the French middle class felt like this just before the revolution?